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You shouldn't use your office laptop for side-projects

A lot of us here works on our side-projects as a 10% entrepreneur.

Meaning, we work on our projects while keeping a full-time job to pay the bills.

And often, we end up using our office resources like laptop, internet connection and software access to work on our personal projects.

This can lead to a bucket-load of problems for you down the road.

Here's why:

Legal issues

Anywhere in the world, an employment contract prohibits you from using the company's resources for your personal projects.

If you do end up using company resources for your side-projects, and the company finds out about your little game, it can claim ownership of your project.

Here's an example:

Bob works at Facebook as a Senior Software Engineer.

In his free time, Bob works on his side-project called Uptime Buddy which is an API uptime monitoring tool.

Over an year or so, Bob has worked tremendously hard in his free time to build a good reputation and loyal customer base for his project.

To the point that his side-project is making thousands of dollars in MRR.

Now:

Bob made a fundamental mistake here.

Since he didn't have a laptop of his own, he used the company laptop to work on his side-project.

Also:

Bob used an IntelliJ IDE licensed to the company to code up his uptime monitoring tool.

No one knew about this, and no one bothered Bob.

But one day, a colleague spots Bob working on his project during work hours and informs his manager about this little stint.

The manager informs the company executives, who files a case against Bob based on the terms of his employment contract with the company.

Now:

Bob has invested so much time and effort into his side-project, that he decides to fight the case against him.

Unfortunately, Bob has no legal grounds because one quick scan by the IT team reveals that Bob used his work laptop and company software licenses to create his product.

So, technically, the thousands of dollars MRR side-project now belongs to the company.

Bob has no choice but to hand-over his side-project to his company and part ways.

So, here's:

How to not lose your side-project

When working on a side-project while holding a full-time job, always do the following:

✅ Use a separate laptop for office and personal projects
✅ Never use software licenses purchased by your employer
✅ Don't work on your side-projects during work hours
✅ Have separate accounts for office and personal. Example: Apple ID, Google Account, etc.

A little cautiousness will go a long way in protecting your hard work in the future.

No employment contract says that you can't work on your own projects in your free time.

Just don't mix office with personal stuff.


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  1. 1

    I think this article needs to say "day-job" instead of office.

    Here's one that I run while at Google. Google pays for your internet connection at home so it's the best possible one. It means that they might end up having a claim to everything you do.

    1. 1

      Not necessarily. Is the internet connection in Google's name?

      If not, there shouldn't be any legal grounds for a case, because the internet connection is registered under your name.

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